Marfa City Guide
City Guides


Marfa, Texas

Population : 1,900

Imagine a place that’s so remote, the stars light up the desert sky with a glistening magic. A place where you can see miles without civilization in sight, yet you feel as though you’re wandering through a New York City art gallery. A place where you watch the tumbleweeds blow across the highway as you stand in front of a Prada store, or where you sip ranch waters outside a teepee with some of the most interesting people you’ll ever meet. This place may sound like an anomaly, but it exists and is one of the greatest wonders of West Texas. Discover Marfa: a magical place like no other. 

In a state as large as Texas, it’s often easier to book a plane flight for a weekend getaway than it is to plan a road trip – but with my small-town roots, there’s nothing I love more than hopping in the car for an adventure. I’ve loved discovering the small towns that truly embrace the Texas charm, and there’s no doubt that Marfa will remain my favorite.

My friend, Sarah, and I ventured to Marfa for a girls getaway, and it is still one of my favorite trips to date. While a 9 hour car ride to end up in the middle of nowhere may not strike your fancy, I highly recommend adding it to your bucket list!


It’s pretty odd to see so many beautifully dressed people in a town that looks like a typical highway stop to the naked eye, but once you start to soak in the magic of Marfa, it’s no wonder celebrities like Beyonce and Natalie Portman pack their boots and head out to this desert escape for R&R and a chance to see the mystical Marfa lights. 

With a population of 1900, Marfa embraces its quirky and offbeat style. The town we know and love today gained its renowned reputation when minimalist artist Donald Judd acquired land for his Chinati Foundation in the 1970s. Whether you explore the former army fort transformed into a gallery, venture out to the insta-famous Prada store, or spot the oh-so-subtle gas station exhibit, Marfa is patterned with quirky yet magnificent sights along the desert landscape.

This dusty, one-stoplight West Texas town is one of those places where time slows down a bit. In fact, the Marfa schedule is quite different than most, so it’s not uncommon for places to be closed at random times – especially during the weekdays. I recommend visiting on the weekend for the best chance to catch the most of Marfa


If you need a lot of hustle and bustle, Marfa may not be the destination for you. But if you’re looking to enjoy serenity and reset in a pleasantly isolated desert town, this artistic hub needs to be on your radar. 

Be aware that you’ll probably pass through a couple border patrol stations, gas stations are few and far between, and cell service is spotty, so it’s best to be prepared with a full tank and directions before hitting the road. 



  • Schedule a tour of Judd’s Chinati Foundation – Visit this former army fort transformed into an art museum by renowned NYC artist, Donald Judd, in the 1970s and view his incredible work to see how Marfa became the quirky artist hub it is today
  • Snap a photo at the Marfa store (and the Target if you head to Terlingua) – While it was never a real store, definitely stop by for a photo opp in front of this must-see art exhibit. It’s about 30 minutes outside of town, and you’ll have the best lighting early in the morning or around sunset
  • Enjoy live music at El Cosmico , The Capri, Planet Marfa, and Lost Horse Saloon
  • Find your zen at the Bar Nadar Pool and Grill at Hotel Saint George
  • Visit Ballroom Marfa – a prohibition-era dance hall turned art gallery
  • Check out Judd – Donald Judd brought Marfa to life and his influence is found all over town
  • Stop by La Mansana de Chinati / The Block – Judd’s simplistic workspace and living quarters
  • Make friends – The best part of traveling is all the interesting people you meet along the way! We became buddies with the guy in the safari tent next to ours and spent an evening having wine under the stars, and ran into each other again in Terlingua at the Starlight Theater. Definitely mingle with others while you’re in Marfa.
  • Attend a “Star Party” at McDonald Observatory – This is one of the darkest places in the US, which makes it an incredible place for stargazing. The Star Parties are held Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday nights, so check the schedule to see if there’s one happening during your trip!
  • Look for the Marfa Mystery Lights – These mysterious lights in the calming night sky change colors and stream over the endless desert landscape. Since the land is completely uninhabited, the lights are mysterious and some think they’re UFOs.. but I’ll let you make the call on that one



Restaurants are on their own time schedule, so don’t be surprised if it’s closed when you arrive. Keeping on trend with all of the quirkiness of Marfa, the names of the local restaurants are undeniably delightful. From Buns N Roses to Boyz 2 Men, the eccentric names match the unique charm that makes Marfa, Marfa 

  • Marfa Burrito – Grab burritos in the home of Ramona Tejeda, otherwise known as the “Burrito Queen” – Matthew McConaughey loves it too!
  • La Venture – The trendy restaurant at Hotel Saint George
  • Buns N’ Roses – We came here solely for the name, but it’s one of the most popular breakfast places in town. It also doubles as a flower shop, so you can pick up a bouquet while you dine
  • Food Shark – Middle Eastern food truck. Recommend the Marfalafel (Beyonce approves)
  • Al Campo – We had a great lunch & HH here, and it’s perfect for dinner. 
  • The Capri at the Thunderbird Motel – One of the trendiest spots in town. We loved it! Swanky cocktails. Outdoor fire pits. Lively 
  • Lost Horse Saloon – Pack your boots and get ready to two-step to Texas country in this cowboy bar
  • Do Your Thing – Coffee bar in an old lumber yard
  • Frama – Perfect spot for breakfast and coffee
  • Planet Marfa – Sip Texas beer in this local bar surrounded by string lights and teepee in the center


Since there aren’t a ton of hotels, don’t be surprised if hotels are booked up. Since availability was slim at El Cosmico  when we visited, we stayed two nights in the safari tent and two nights in the little pink trailer. The tents had queen beds, but the trailer had a double so we were extra cozy!

  • El Cosmico  – If you like glamping, definitely stay here. We had the best time, and the accommodations were so unique! Heads up, you’ll use a common bath house if you don’t stay in the airstream, but it added to the experience. Highly recommend it! Read our full review on El Cosmico 
  • Hotel Saint George – If boutique hotels are more your scene, Hotel St George is your spot. It’s trendy, modern, minimalistic and chic.
  • Hotel Paisano – For an old school feel, this historic hotel was built in the 1930s, but made famous when Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean stayed here while filming Giant in the 1950s
  • The Thunderbird – This motel hotel holds onto its original roots with have record players and typewriters in all of the guests rooms. Not the fanciest, but is simple and delightful


Marfa Prada Store


Though you’ll most likely see women in stilettos as you scroll through Marfa on Pinterest, trust me from experience, you will not need heels. Since Marfa is located in the desert, you’ll want to layer for the day to be breezy and casual. We were freezing in the mornings and evenings, and sweating during the day. A denim jacket and your favorite boots ​​ are essentials when spending a weekend here.

  • Boots – While I love my designer sneakers, the climate is dusty and your shoes will get dirty
  • Denim – Jacket, jeans, cut-offs. No need to dress fancy here
  • Layers
  • Hat – Because everyone looks chic in a hat ;)
  • Warm PJs – If you’re staying in the tents, teepees, or yurts at El Cosmico, definitely pack warm PJs. We visited in May, but it was so cold at night I slept in jeans and a denim jacket! Cozy PJs are first on my list for my next trip
  • Lotion & Lip Balm– the dry climate makes your skin drier than normal
  • Sunscreen


marfa el cosmico guide


  • You are in the desert and may be more dehydrated than normal, so drink lots of water
  • Pack lotion to keep your skin moisturized in the dry heat
  • Phone coverage can be spotty – It’s nice to be off the grid to soak in the beauty and magic of Marfa, but if you’re venturing out of town, make sure you check directions before relying on GPS
  • The drive at night can feel a little creepy knowing you’re so isolated, so avoid driving from Terlingua to Marfa late at night
  • Pack light – Hauling a wheeling suitcase through the dirt to a tent is not recommended, from experience.
  • Dress in layers – The temperature changes drastically during the day. You’ll be chilly in the mornings and evenings, and sweating during the afternoons with the desert sun
  • Bring cash
  • Get Go grocery store is great for essentials or grabbing wine to enjoy under the stars
  • Pack a blanket for lounging outdoors

marfa el cosmico trailer
El Cosmico Marfa
Marfa Teepees


Since it’s a long journey, I recommend adding a couple stops to your road trip. On your way there, pull over at the Monahans Sandhills for a little sand sledding. We had a blast here, and it was bizarre to see such a beautiful yet unexpected landscape hidden off the side of the highway.

After your trip to Marfa, definitely drive over to Terlingua to hike Big Bend followed by margaritas, tacos, and live music at the local Starlight Theater. If you plan to stay over night, check out the Willow House or find a nearby yurt from AirBnB. For a full Terlingua guide, click here. 

If you’re craving a little luxury after a weekend of glamping, add Lajitas to your list. This golf resort is the perfect spot for a couples getaway, and you can read why we loved it here. 

monahan sand hills
monahan sand hills


Marfa Weekend Guide
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